Daily Archives: 2011-10-07

If voting could ever cause real political change …

If voting could ever cause real political change, they would have made it illegal by now.” – Emma Goldman


Survive a Mace Attack

And another helpful article for Wired (

“So you’re worried about being Maced? Forewarned is forearmed, and here’s what you need to know if you anticipate being on the receiving end of a spray canister.

Know what you’re up against


Mace (the product) is essentially aerosolized tear gas. This product was first introduced by the Mace company, and its spray became interchangeable with the product—kind of like the whole Jacuzzi, Winnebago, Kleenex thing. Mace does a number on the body’s mucus membranes and can cause disorientation, dizziness and may immobilize the target. Several deaths have been attributed to Mace, one of the reasons why it’s fallen into disfavour. This product is often referred to as “chemical mace” to distinguish it from the pepper sprays the Mace company now sells under the Mace brand name.

A cayenne pepper, the main ingredient of pepper spray. Photo by Andre Karwath/ CC share Alike 2.5

A cayenne pepper, the main ingredient of pepper spray. Photo by Andre Karwath/ CC share Alike 2.5

Mace (the company) currently supplies individuals and security forces with pepper sprays. Considered more accurate than chemical Mace, pepper spray contains the active ingredient capsaicin (which in turn comes from the cayenne pepper plant —thus the “pepper” in pepper spray). The effects of being hit in the face with pepper spray are quite unpleasant. if sprayed, you can expect to experience 15 to 30 minutes of blindness, an hour or two of burning sensation on your skin and at least a few minutes of coughing spasms that make breathing and speaking difficult. Side effects (as if the primary effects weren’t bad enough) include gagging, coughing and hyperventilation. Nasty stuff.

When you hear the term “Mace” used in the context of the NYPD, you can expect that it’s the pepper spray variety they’re packing since it officially replaced chemical Mace in their kits in 1994. So if you get “maced” you’re actually getting pepper sprayed.


The police model Pepper Spray from Mace, utilized by many law enforcement agencies. Photo from

The police model Pepper Spray from Mace, utilized by many law enforcement agencies. Photo from

The spray canisters usually carried by NYPD offices have an effective range of between 3 and 15 feet. The NYPD patrol guide prohibits use of pepper spray against passive subjects, but I wouldn’t count on that as protection during a mass protest situation. There are also “fogger” pepper spray dispensers that are less accurate but take out multiple protesters in one spray and “pepper balls” similar to paintballs that include dye so the target suffers the triple indignity of being shot, hit with pepper spray and marked with dye for easier identification.


Now that you know what you’re dealing with, how do you survive a mace attack? There’s only one sure way to avoid getting maced and that’s to avoid any potential mass confrontation scenes altogether. But if you have a cause that you’re determined to protest and you’re willing to take the risk, here are a ten survival tips:

1. Avoid the front lines. Most pepper spray canisters have a maximum range of 15 feet or so. Give yourself an extra five feet and stay back 20 feet from any point where a crowd is about to interact with police. That should keep you from taking a direct hit. Of course if pepper ball guns come out, you’ll want to have as many people between you and that burning plastic bullet as possible, so maybe fade into the background for a bit.

2. If you wear contacts, ditch them for your day of protest and put on glasses instead. Pepper spray and contacts make for a painful combination—especially if you’re sprayed and have to pry them out of eyes clenched in pain—and the glasses will give your eyes some degree of protection. Better yet, bring along some swim goggles with a tight seal.

3. Pack a pair of vinyl gloves. If you come into connect with a pepper spray target, the irritants could get on your hands (and then your eyes) if they aren’t protected.

4. Even if it’s 75 degrees and sunny, no shorts. If you want to rock an ironic tee, make sure to wear a long sleeve shirt under it (it’s cool, Grunge is coming back don’t you know). Wear socks and a hat. The goal is protect as much of your skin as possible from exposure to the pepper spray.

5. It’s not just cowboys and hair metal bands that wear bandanas—professional protesters seldom leave home without one. Wrapped around your neck, it provides protection from direct spray; dampened with water then pulled up over your mouth it helps a little against dispersed pepper spray.

SGE 400/3 Gas Mask by ME.ST.EL. Italian designer looks with NATO grade protection. Don't forget the filters!

SGE 400/3 Gas Mask by ME.ST.EL. Italian designer looks with NATO grade protection. Don’t forget the filters!

6. The truly prepared will wear a gas mask for maximum protection. The downsides to wearing a gas mask include being on the receiving end of strange looks, discomfort, looking like a bit of an idiot and possibly making a target of yourself. The police aren’t supposed to profile people (including protesters), but let’s face it —if you show up wearing a gas mask, you might as well have “trouble” tattooed on your forehead. 7. Wear decent running shoes. Going back to tip number one, the front lines sometimes move fast. If you have to get out of the way in a hurry, you don’t want to be wobbling around on heels.

8. If you see the spray canisters coming out, avoid being downwind so you don’t catch any residual drift. It won’t be as bad as a direct hit, but any exposure to pepper spray is unpleasant.

9. For the pessimists (or the “always be prepared” crowd), pack a sealed plastic bag with fresh clothes to change into if you’re pepper sprayed and carry as much water as you can for washing and flushing eyes.

10. If you’re hit, stay calm. It’s gonna hurt like hell and you’ll likely want to punch someone (once you can breath again), but pepper spray is very seldom lethal. A few hours tops and you’ll be okay. Focus on not doing anything stupid like rubbing your eyes.


In the event that you overlooked the survival tips or were just in the wrong place at the wrong time:

  • Do not rub!
  • Water and lots of it on any skin surface that’s been contacted by the spray. A cool shower if you can get it.
  • Flush your eyes with cool water (remove contact lenses if you wore them). While some sources claim other remedies for soothing the skin, such as milk, baby shampoo, or antacid, studies suggest plain old water is just as effective as anything else. It’s cheapest, doesn’t spoil, easy to carry and find in volume, plus you’ll want water anyway for flushing out the eyes.
  • Do not apply salves, creams or lotions until skin is thoroughly washed (otherwise irritants can be trapped against the skin, extending the fun).
  • Blow your nose, spit out any phlegm.
  • This goes without saying, but wash the clothes you were wearing when you were pepper sprayed. They may have residual irritants on them.

Note: Specifics about the Mace/pepper spray products employed by the NYPD were obtained from “Report of the Pepper Spray Committee Civilian Complaint Review Board” (PDF)

Original post by Brad Moon,


Prepare Your Digital Camera to Document a Protest

The good people are Wired have produced this article (

“Not only will the revolution be televised, but, as we’ve seen from the Middle East to Wall street, protests are being meticulously documented by ordinary citizens and journalists alike across the globe. Images and video capture people’s attention in ways that oral testimony cannot, and the proliferation of inexpensive, easy-to-use still and video cameras enables anyone to document potential conflict, wherever it may occur. This article presents several tips and tricks for preparing your camera, keeping it safe, and maximizing the usefulness of your protest photos so they can be used in an article or as evidence in a legal proceeding.

Physically prepare the camera

Make sure that your primary batteries, and any backup batteries, are charged. Attach a wrist lanyard, and be prepared to use it. You may be knocked around or jostled, and you may drop the camera. You can use tape to secure the battery door cover, so that it doesn’t fly open if the camera is dropped.

Does your camera require any accessory cables or memory card adapters? Consider bringing them with you. They may be helpful if you want to rapidly upload your pictures, or transfer them to another device for safe-keeping.

Camera Settings

You want to prepare your camera so that you can rapidly power it on and document activities. When the action strikes and you need to respond to a rapidly developing situation, you may be under stress, or get jostled. You want to get your camera ready using the minimum amount of time and effort. Consider changing the following settings in your cameras software:

Startup/splash screen: Does your camera display a manufacturer logo on startup? You may be able to shave a second or two off startup time by disabling this feature.

Picture review: It is peoples’ habit to look at a picture after snapping it. This is helpful if you use the information to re-adjust your picture taking, but it can distract your attention and you cannot take another picture while reviewing the picture. Consider shortening how long your camera displays the review, or disable the feature entirely.

Red eye reduction, facial recognition: Most digital cameras have a red-eye reduction feature that emits a short flash or burst of light prior to taking a picture with flash. You may want to disable this for two reasons. First, it adds a fraction of a second to your picture-taking, which means that it will slow down your documentation of rapid events. Second, it puts the subject of your photograph on notice that they are being photographed. You may have reasons why you wish to avoid this.

Some digital cameras have a feature that recognizes faces, and automatically focuses to capture them. Depending on how fast your camera accomplishes this, you may wish to disable it. If you find that it consistently takes your camera longer to focus, with this feature enabled, then you have to decide whether your camera usage is more concerned with capturing activity or crisply capturing the faces of people.

Automatic Focus/Automatic flash: It is probably best to enable these features. Your goal is to be able to document as quickly as possible, without fussing with camera settings. There are applications where you may want to disable flash (covert photography), but your photographs may be unusable if the lighting is too low.

Image size: Many cameras boast the ability to take large megapixel images. Depending on several factors, including the speed of your memory card, you may wish to shoot pictures at less than the maximum megapixel setting. If the megapixel setting is too large, it may take your camera extra time to save the image, and postpone your ability to shoot another shot. Also, larger pictures take up the space on your memory card faster, perhaps limiting the number of photos that you can shoot before having to upload them somewhere else. On the other hand, a large megapixel image may capture more detail, such as badge numbers, facial detail, etc.

Time Stamp: Some cameras have the option to print a timestamp on your photograph, using the clock built into the camera. Enabling this option is an aesthetic choice. Regardless of whether you enable time-stamping, the time and date of your photograph will be embedded in the metadata of the photograph itself. So you do not have to worry about this information being lost.

Prepare Your Memory Card

You likely use your camera for personal use, and have photographs on it that are important to you. You should backup your photos in case your camera gets lost, or seized by the police. Especially if you have photographs that you wish to remain private. It is a good idea to purchase a separate memory card. This way you don’t have to worry about your personal photographs, you can leave that memory card at home.

If you do not purchase a separate memory card, you should backup your photographs to your computer or the cloud, and then format the memory card. A good format (secure erase) prevents anyone from recovering your photographs from the trash space on the memory card.

There are many utilities to securely erase your memory card. For Windows, there is Recuva, which will look for files after you have deleted them, and give you the option to securely delete them by writing over them with random data. OSX users can use the built-in “Secure Empty Trash” feature, by moving files to the trash, and then selecting “Secure Empty Trash” from the finder toolbar. (OSX 10.4 and greater). For additional piece-of-mind, you can then use the OSX utility “Disk Utility” to “Erase Free Space.”

Finally, you can mark the memory card with a marker or small sticker, so that it doesn’t get confused with similar memory cards, should it be removed and passed around.

Return if found picture

Following this simple step can save your camera if you are separated from it. Make a document on your computer, increase the text size, and then take a picture of it. The picture should contain your contact information (name, email, telephone number, etc.). If you are really ambitious you can make a cute/funny picture, playing on people’s sympathy, should they find your camera. This works best if you have erased the camera, and the photo with your contact information is the first picture. Finally, you can use a computer to create a text file with the relevant info and save it to your memory card.

Synchronize time and date

One of the factors that will determine the journalistic or evidentiary value of your photos is how they can be combined with other photos and testimony to construct a timeline. Sometimes it is enough to capture something notable in your photo, but often, it is important to reconstruct when and where your photo was taken, in relation to other events. This is why it is important to synchronize your camera’s clock to some authoritative time source.

First you should manually set the time on your camera to some accurate time source, such as a web-based atomic clock. Then, wait some period of time, at least an hour, and then take a photograph of the web-based atomic clock with your camera (the website must display seconds); such as: This will allow a forensic technician to calculate the “drift” of your camera’s clock. Drift occurs because your camera’s time will never be perfectly aligned to the second, and over time the tenth or hundredth of a second errors result in an inaccurate timestamp. It may be the case that someone is called upon to reconstruct an incident using viewpoints and angles from several different cameras, in which case time synchronization is crucial.

Documenting the Protest

You will have to use your judgment regarding who and what to take pictures of. You can keep your camera ready by securing the wrist strap to your wrist. Keep alert for noise or commotion signaling a need for documentation.

But also, it is important to take pictures when there is no action going on. These pictures serve two roles. First, they help establish a timeline of where you, and your group, were at what times. This is relevant to put in context any pictures you may get of misconduct. Every so often, take a picture of a landmark (street signs are good), or of notable persons or objects, such as police officers and/or police vehicles (try to get license plate numbers or vehicle numbers).

Second, pictures of non-violent protest establish a narrative for your photographs. They can serve to rebut allegations that the protest was violent or out of control.

Uploading your pictures over WiFi or cellular internet

If you would like to upload your photos in real-time, either so that people online can follow the action, or because you are concerned that your camera may be seized, there is a solution. Eye-Fi makes memory cards (SD format) that have WiFi radios in them. The Eye-Fi cards can be configured to upload your photos directly to popular photo-sharing websites.

The Eye-Fi card requires WiFi to work, and you might not have WiFi coverage at your protest location. In this case, you can use a mobile hotspot, which makes a cellular connection to the Internet and then shares it via WiFi. Some telephones also have this feature; it is sometimes referred to as wireless tethering.

Original article by Ari Douglas, for


The ‘getting’ of Assange and the smearing of a revolution

John Pilger is a long-standing member of ‘The Journalists We Can Trust’. Have look around his site and read some of his books.

His article ( explaind the issues surrounding Julian Assange, WikiLeaks and The Establishment’s need to silence him:

“6 October 2011

The High Court in London will soon to decide whether Julian Assange is to be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual misconduct. At the appeal hearing in July, Ben Emmerson QC, counsel for the defence, described the whole saga as “crazy”. Sweden’s chief prosecutor had dismissed the original arrest warrant, saying there was no case for Assange to answer. Both the women involved said they had consented to have sex. On the facts alleged, no crime would have been committed in Britain.

However, it is not the Swedish judicial system that presents a “grave danger” to Assange, say his lawyers, but a legal device known as a Temporary Surrender, under which he can be sent on from Sweden to the United States secretly and quickly. The founder and editor of WikiLeaks, who published the greatest leak of official documents in history, providing a unique insight into rapacious wars and the lies told by governments, is likely to find himself in a hell hole not dissimilar to the “torturous” dungeon that held Private Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower. Manning has not been tried, let alone convicted, yet on 21 April, President Barack Obama declared him guilty with a dismissive “He broke the law”.

This Kafka-style justice awaits Assange whether or not Sweden decides to prosecute him. Last December, the Independent disclosed that the US and Sweden had already started talks on Assange’s extradition. At the same time, a secret grand jury – a relic of the 18th century long abandoned in this country – has convened just across the river from Washington, in a corner of Virginia that is home to the CIA and most of America’s national security establishment. The grand jury is a “fix”, a leading legal expert told me: reminiscent of the all-white juries in the South that convicted blacks by rote. A sealed indictment is believed to exist.

Under the US Constitution, which guarantees free speech, Assange should be protected, in theory. When he was running for president, Obama, himself a constitutional lawyer, said, “Whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal”. His embrace of George W. Bush’s “war on terror” has changed all that. Obama has pursued more whistleblowers than any US president. The problem for his administration in “getting” Assange and crushing WikiLeaks is that military investigators have found no collusion or contact between him and Manning, reports NBC. There is no crime, so one has to be concocted, probably in line with Vice President Joe Biden’s absurd description of Assange as a “hi-tech terrorist”.

Should Assange win his High Court appeal in London, he could face extradition direct to the United States. In the past, US officials have synchronised extradition warrants with the conclusion of a pending case. Like its predatory military, American jurisdiction recognises few boundaries. As the suffering of Bradley Manning demonstrates, together with the recently executed Troy Davis and the forgotten inmates of Guantanamo, much of the US criminal justice system is corrupt if not lawless.

In a letter addressed to the Australian government, Britain’s most distinguished human rights lawyer, Gareth Peirce, who now acts for Assange, wrote, “Given the extent of the public discussion, frequently on the basis of entirely false assumptions… it is very hard to attempt to preserve for him any presumption of innocence. Mr. Assange has now hanging over him not one but two Damocles swords, of potential extradition to two different jurisdictions in turn for two different alleged crimes, neither of which are crimes in his own country, and that his personal safety has become at risk in circumstances that are highly politically charged.”

These facts, and the prospect of a grotesque miscarriage of justice, have been drowned in a vituperative campaign against the WikiLeaks founder. Deeply personal, petty, perfidious and inhuman attacks have been aimed at a man not charged with any crime yet held isolated, tagged and under house arrest – conditions not even meted out to a defendant presently facing extradition on a charge of murdering his wife.

Books have been published, movie deals struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the assumption that he is fair game and too poor to sue. People have made money, often big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive. On 16 June, the publisher of Canongate Books, Jamie Byng, when asked by Assange for an assurance that the rumoured unauthorised publication of his autobiography was not true, said, “No, absolutely not. That is not the position … Julian, do not worry. My absolute number one desire is to publish a great book which you are happy with.” On 22 September, Canongate released what it called Assange’s “unauthorised autobiography” without the author’s permission or knowledge. It was a first draft of an incomplete, uncorrected manuscript. “They thought I was going to prison and that would have inconvenienced them,” he told me. “It’s as if I am now a commodity that presents an incentive to any opportunist.”

The editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, has called the WikiLeaks disclosures “one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years”. Indeed, this is part of his current marketing promotion to justify raising the Guardian’s cover price. But the scoop belongs to Assange not the Guardian. Compare the paper’s attitude towards Assange with its bold support for the reporter threatened with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act for revealing the iniquities of Hackgate. Editorials and front pages have carried stirring messages of solidarity from even Murdoch’s Sunday Times. On 29 September, Carl Bernstein was flown to London to compare all this with his Watergate triumph. Alas, the iconic fellow was not entirely on message. “It’s important not to be unfair to Murdoch,” he said, because “he’s the most far seeing media entrepreneur of our time” who “put The Simpsons on air” and thereby “showed he could understand the information consumer”.

The contrast with the treatment of a genuine pioneer of a revolution in journalism, who dared take on rampant America, providing truth about how great power works, is telling. A drip-feed of hostility runs through the  Guardian, making it difficult for readers to interpret the WikiLeaks phenomenon and to assume other than the worst about its founder. David Leigh, the Guardian’s  “investigations editor”, told journalism students at City University that Assange was a “Frankenstein monster” who “didn’t use to wash very often” and was “quite deranged”. When a puzzled student asked why he said that, Leigh replied, “Because he doesn’t understand the parameters of conventional journalism. He and his circle have a profound contempt for what they call the mainstream media”. According to Leigh, these “parameters” were exemplified by Bill Keller when, as editor of the New York Times, he co-published the WikiLeaks disclosures with the Guardian. Keller, said Leigh, was “a seriously thoughtful person in journalism” who had to deal with “some sort of dirty, flaky hacker from Melbourne”.

Last November, the “seriously thoughtful” Keller boasted to the BBC that he had taken all WikiLeaks’ war logs to the White House so the government could approve and edit them. In the run-up to the Iraq war, the New York Times published a series of now notorious CIA-inspired claims claiming weapons of mass destruction existed. Such are the “parameters” that have made so many people cynical about the so-called mainstream media.

Leigh went as far as to mock the danger that, once extradited to America, Assange would end up wearing “an orange jump suit”. These were things “he and his lawyer are saying in order to feed his paranoia”. The “paranoia” is shared by the European Court of Human Rights which has frozen “national security” extraditions from the UK to the US because the extreme isolation and long sentences defendants can expect amounts to torture and inhuman treatment.

I asked Leigh why he and the Guardian had adopted a consistently hostile towards Assange since they had parted company. He replied, “Where you, tendentiously, claim to detect a ‘hostile toe’, others might merely see well-informed objectivity.”

It is difficult to find well-informed objectivity in the Guardian’s book on Assange, sold lucratively to Hollywood, in which Assange is described gratuitously as a “damaged personality” and “callous”. In the book, Leigh revealed the secret password Assange had given the paper. Designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables, its disclosure set off a chain of events that led to the release of all the files. The Guardian denies “utterly” it was responsible for the release. What, then, was the point of publishing the password?

The Guardian’s Hackgate exposures were a journalistic tour de force; the Murdoch empire may disintegrate as a result. But, with or without Murdoch, a media consensus that echoes, from the BBC to the Sun, a corrupt political, war-mongering establishment. Assange’s crime has been to threaten this consensus: those who fix the “parameters” of news and political ideas and whose authority as media commissars is challenged by the revolution of the internet.

The prize-winning former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook has experience in both worlds.”The media, at least the supposedly left-wing component of it,” he writes, “should be cheering on this revolution… And yet, mostly they are trying to co-opt, tame or subvert it [even] to discredit and ridicule the harbingers of the new age… Some of [campaign against Assange] clearly reflects a clash of personalities and egos, but it also looks suspiciously like the feud derives from a more profound ideological struggle [about] how information should be controlled a generation hence [and] the gatekeepers maintaining their control.” “


Maurice Kirk: I am far too ill to attend court and bed bound with unattended gut pain

Maurice Kirk, along side Norman Scarth, has been a thorn in the side of the courts. The pair have been exposing the corruption in our courts for years. Now the courts are trying to exact their revenge on Maurice. Victims Unite!, as ever, have taken up the case and exposing Maurice’s plight.


It has taken Maurice J Kirk BVSc 10 days to be able to write out, after he was transferred from Tottenham Police to HMP Cardiff.  Please telephone HMP Cardiff on 02920 923 100 and ask for the medical officer. 

Or write to Prisoner No A7306AT HMP Cardiff, Knox Road, South Glamorgan CF24

For trying to help the Nigerian Musa parents get their six children back from the clutches of Haringey Council has turned into

  • serious unattended gut pain
  • ulcer problems requiring an endoscopy
  • real fears of being sectioned based on Dr Tegwyn Williams’ psycho-reports of two years ago, as Haringey Police cover up the Musa child snatching case and South Wales Police continue to harass Maurice.

Here’s his summary of bullying.

Dear Guy,

Enclosed 2 copies of current situation.

At last court I was refused a videolink at 2pm after I stated I was too ill to travel to court. I was offered a videolink but then refused. – Almost same game as 2 years ago in June 09 when no one told me I was due in court and then told court I had refused!

I have sent both these copies to xxx.

It has taken 10 days to get a letter out to write.

I was refused a phonecall out both at Tottenham police station and in prison upon entry.

Can you ring (ian illegible) Butlin Cat and between you get them to Sabine for publication.

I also sent 11 point letter to Magistrates copied to John making three documents. I would be grateful if you check that Butlincat has sent on facts of that one for www email / twitter etc also.

It has taken 10 days to get a letter to write on. They are playing exactly the same game as June 09 re playing the Gulag card. – Sabine witnessed the CPS at Haringey Magistrates press hard for a sectioning reliant only on, they admitted, 2-year old Dr Tegwyn Williams psycho reports.

Ensure Meirion is kept up to date, please.

I am far too ill to attend court but with word from on high I am not being transferred to the hospital wing for political reasons. This is causing trouble on the wing as I am bed bound with serious unattended gut pain and passing some blood.

Was admitted to PSW for this for endoscopy, in August, still not done. 3 doctors say it must be done but, once again, politics prevail.

Having real difficulty getting any Anodine and try being not in hospital wing.

In first 7 days I managed to get 2 tablets out of my daily prescribed PEW 8-week prescription so I know, … too ill, what Norman was going through all … prison. Please keep him up to date as he is experienced in the tricks they play.

I was refused access to the County Court for numerous cases unlucky 28 Sept High Court 4 Oct JR … time morning 2nd Nov 10, to find case already over.

Please ring Cardiff Justice Centre and explain why I would not attend and please try and establish what happened for each case.

Please keep this letter.

Sorry about the writing.

Best Regards



Steve Jobs

I don’t know if these are a a hoax.

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